You may be at higher risk of developing other medical conditions if you have psoriasis or another autoimmune condition. One condition you may be at risk for is an infection caused by the Candida fungus.
This infection can appear in several ways. It can appear as thrush, a vaginal yeast infection, or invasive candidiasis. Research suggests those with psoriasis may be more likely to have Candida present in their bodies. This can lead to infection and worsen psoriasis symptoms.
What is Candida?
Candida is a strain of fungus. It’s also referred to as yeast. If this fungus becomes too prevalent in your body, it can cause an infection. It’s likely that your body already has traces of this fungus.
It may be found in the:
- digestive tract
The presence of other bacteria can keep the fungus from causing an infection. An infection occurs when this balance of bacteria is compromised. This imbalance can be caused by an illness or other medical condition.
Candida infections include:
This can occur inside the mouth. The symptoms can include:
- white lesions on your tongue
- white lesions on your cheeks
- difficulty swallowing
- a fever
Vaginal yeast infection
Yeast infections can also cause uncomfortable vaginal itching and irritation. It may also cause your body to produce a heavy and thick discharge that looks like cottage cheese. It’s estimated that 3 out of every 4 women will have a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime.
A diaper rash can be the result of a yeast infection because of its warm and moist environment. The infection breeds in the creases of the skin, such as the groin or buttock folds. Red dots may appear around it.
If the fungus spreads to other parts of body, such as the bloodstream, it’s considered invasive. This condition is very serious and even life-threatening at times. It can affect all parts of the body. This includes the:
Due to the serious nature of this infection, a lengthy treatment or hospital stay may be required.
What is the link between Candida and psoriasis?
Several studies suggest that people with psoriasis are more likely to have Candida colonize in their body. It’s thought that substances called “superantigens” and toxins from species of Candida can worsen psoriasis symptoms.
Psoriasis is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder. Most people are diagnosed with this chronic condition between the ages of 12 and 30. Psoriasis causes skin cells to turn over too quickly. This results in raised red patches and a silvery white buildup on the skin. It can appear as other types of rashes, as well as progress to psoriatic arthritis.
A recent study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that the colonization of Candida in people with psoriasis was significantly greater than the colonization in people without psoriasis. An earlier study in Mycoses found that people with psoriasis had significantly more occurrences of Candida in their saliva and stool than people without psoriasis.
Both studies suggest that people with psoriasis are more likely to have Candida in their bodies. This may cause worsening psoriasis symptoms. The study in Mycoses suggests that doctors should consider prescribing antifungal medications when treating psoriasis.
How to prevent and manage Candida infections
If you suspect you have a Candida infection, you should visit your doctor. When this infection strikes, you’ll be treated with antifungal medications either by mouth, topically by using creams, or intravenously.
You can lower your risk of developing this infection by having good hygiene. Thrush can be avoided by keeping your mouth clean through toothbrushing, flossing, and saltwater rinses.
Wearing loose fitting, cotton underwear, pants, and skirts can decrease your chance of getting a yeast infection. Avoiding hot pools or hot tubs and limiting your use of antibiotics can also prevent yeast infections.
There’s a diet known as a “candida cleanse diet.” Alternative medicine practitioners are big advocates of it. This diet eliminates sugars, white flour, yeasts, and cheeses to cure “yeast syndrome.” There isn’t a great amount of evidence backing it, though. It’s been suggested that this diet is successful because it cuts out unhealthy, processed foods. You may feel better by eliminating these foods, but it isn’t necessarily because you’re reducing excess yeast from your body.
Before you pursue an alternative treatment for this infection, see your doctor to discuss your options. If you have psoriasis and suspect that Candida is worsening your symptoms, you and your doctor should discuss the best course of action.